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Mobile Game App Development Cost: A Detailed Guide 2024!

127 Views | 9 min | Published On: April 4, 2024 Last Updated: April 10, 2024

Ever wondered how much it costs to design an app for a mobile game? Of course, you can have a rough figure in mind, but would it be sufficient to start down the development path? Certainly no!

The cost of creating a gaming app can vary from absolutely nothing to a colossal $174m – the present record for the most expensive game ever developed. 

Before developing a mobile game app, it is imperative to fully understand development costs.  It will assist you in developing a robust budget and ensure smart resource allocation and effective risk mitigation. 

In today’s guide, we’ll thoroughly discuss the mobile game app development costs, crucial considerations, mobile game development low-cost strategies, and much more.

Let’s get started, but first, let’s take a look at the mobile gaming app statistics!

Mobile Gaming App Statistics Overview

Following, we've provided an overview of mobile gaming app statistics. Let's take a look:

mobile gaming app stats overview

Stages of Mobile Game App Development

Following, we’ve listed the stages of developing the mobile game app. Let’s get into details:

mobile game app development stages

1. Market Research

Conducting market research is the first step of mobile game app development. It includes:

  • Identifying target-audience preferences, 
  • What will be the game mechanics for your app?
  • Which game engines will you use?
  • Who are your potential competitors, 
  • Stylistic innovations, and more.

Time Duration: 1 Week

2. Game Design Document (GDD)

Develop a detailed GDD outlining the game concept, mechanics, target audience, game platform, storyline, game levels, monetization model, etc. GDD helps the entire team understand the overall process before they begin the development process. 

Time Duration: 1 Week

3. Technical Specifications

This stage defines the technical requirements of the game. This includes a choice of platform (Android or iOS), game engine (Unity, Unreal Engine, etc.), programming languages, and so on. 

Time Duration: 2 Week

4. Prototyping

An essential stage in the development process is creating a game prototype. Making a prototype facilitates testing essential gameplay elements and gathering user feedback. Also, it helps to improve and enhance the game concept before delving into the development process. 

Time Duration: 1 Week

5. Game Design

Here the development of game visuals comes into play. It includes 2D/3D assets, animations, special effects, game environments, character design, levels, puzzles, challenges, etc. 

Time Duration: 3 Week

6. Game Programming

This stage includes writing programming codes and setting up databases, APIs, and servers. It also involves implementing game mechanics with technical specifications, VFX, 2D/3D assets, and animations. 

Time Duration:  2+ months

7. Sound Design

This step is important to enhance the user experience by integrating sound effects, background music, audio elements, etc. Make sure the sounds in the game align with the game events and interactions. 

Time Duration:  1 Week

8. Testing

Make sure you test the system properly to identify errors, flaws, bugs, and other issues. Our game app developers evaluate the game’s stability and compatibility with various hardware configurations, operating systems, and screen sizes. 

Time Duration: 1  Week

9. Launching

The mobile game app is ready to be launched once everything is set up. Also, your gaming app must follow the guidelines and requirements of app stores such as the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Once your app is deployed, make sure to monitor analytics and user feedback to get insights and make the required adjustments.   

Time Duration:  1 Day

Factors that Influence the Game Development Cost 

Various factors impact the cost of game development. So, it is crucial to learn all aspects before diving into the development process. Let’s check:

Game development cost factors

1. Game Type and Complexity

From basic mobile game apps to complex or advanced game apps, the type and complexity of the game highly impact the development costs.

Different Game Types

Mini 2D games: Build with simple mechanics, which are easier to learn and play. 

Examples: 2048, Flappy Bird, Doodle Jump
Estimated Cost: $5,000 to $10,000

Casual 2D games: As compared to mini 2D games, casual 2D games are more complex with a tendency to include strategic or simulation elements. 

Examples: Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies
Estimated Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

Mid-level 3D games: 3D Mid-level games provide greater depth to their gameplay than 2D games. 

Examples: Minecraft, HellBlade, Little Nightmare
Estimated Cost: $50,000 t0 $120,000

High-End 3D games: Advanced 3D games have complex mechanics, compelling graphics, and fascinating gameplay. 

Examples: The Witcher 2: Wild Hunt, Red Dead Redemption 2
Estimated Cost: $1,50,000 to $1,00,0000

AAA games: Advanced, top-tier high-budget games that are developed by major studies with extensive resources. 

Examples: Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto Series, Racing Games, Real-Time Strategy
Estimated Cost:$50 million to $200 million or above

Game Complexity

Level of Game Complexity Game Development Time Estimated Cost Range
Basic-Level 2 to 3 months $25,000 to $60,000
Mid-Level 4 to 6 months $60,000 to $120,000
Advanced-Level 7 months and more $150,000+

2. Game Platform

Mobile game development costs also depend on the complexity of the platform (Android, iOS, or cross-platform). 

Android Platform The development cost of Android is less, irrespective of the various screen sizes and capacities.
iOS Platform The development cost on iOS is higher due to factors like payment system integration, an admin panel, and restrictions on apps in the App Store.
Cross-Platform Cross-platform app development applies to both types of platforms. It requires a single codebase that can be deployed everywhere, which helps to save time, effort, and money.

3. Technology & Tools

Game technology & tools influence the cost of game development. Make sure to evaluate the tech stack and tools that you’ll implement for your game application. Following, we’ve listed a few factors that you must consider –

Game Engine & Licensing Some popular game engines, such as Unity, Unreal Engine, and Cocos Creator, are used to develop games. The engine cost varies from free options (which offer limited features) to paid versions (which offer premium features). Also, some game engines require licensing fees for commercial use.
Development Software List the essential software tools required, including powerful in-built tools, comprehensive documentation, extensive asset store, coding, and project management.
Hardware Requirements List the hardware required for development, including any specialized tools, PCs, or virtual reality headsets.

4. Game Design & Graphics

Game design and graphics impact the overall development cost of gaming apps. Games with advanced design and graphics assets, such as, offer amazing visual appeal and user experience. However, they also consume extensive time and resources, significantly increasing development costs. 

The cost of 3D graphics will be higher than that of 2D graphics. Check the table below – 

Scale and Complexity
  • Basic 2D graphics with simple assets and animation may cost around $10,000 to $10,000

  • Complex 2D graphics with high-resolution assets and advanced animation could cost around $10,000 to $50,000

3D Graphics
  • Basic 3D graphics with simple animations could cost around $5,000 to $20,000

  • Advanced or complex 3D graphics with high resolution, animations, and special effects could cost $20,000 or more.

5. Game Testing

Next comes game testing and quality assurance, which are essential components of mobile game development. They ensure the game's smooth functioning and remove bugs or errors. 

Implementation of specific strategies assists to ensure the seamless functioning of the game, which include –

Functional Testing Verify game features and mechanics
Compatibility Testing Check performance across platforms and devices
Performance Testing Assess speed, responsiveness, and stability
Compliance Testing Ensure adherence to industry standards and regulations
Security Testing Identify and address vulnerabilities and threats
Localization Testing Verify accurate translation and cultural adaptation
White Box Testing Examine internal code and logic for errors
Black Box Testing Test functionality from an end-user perspective
Testing Cost: It costs around $5,000 to $10,000 depending on game type, complexity, and types of testing employed.

6. Marketing

Creating and deploying a mobile gaming app is one of its many aspects. Next is the other and most important factor: marketing. 

mobile gaming marketing stats

Of course, you want to reach the right audience for your app to boost engagement and generate revenue. Undoubtedly, promoting your app will also require considerable money. 

Note: There’s no fixed cost for mobile game app marketing—it may cost thousands to millions of dollars, depending on budget and studios. 

7. Location of Development Team

The location of the development team affects the cost of game development because of variations in labor costs and overhead expenses. 

Hiring a US-based development team will cost you more than hiring one in India. Check below –

Hiring a US-based development team Average mobile game developer rates in the U.S. range around $100 per hour.
Hiring an India-based development team Indian mobile game app developers charge around $30 per hour.

Note: To calculate the development cost of the mobile game app. Use the following formula:

Total Number of Development Hours X Hourly Rate of Developer = Mobile Game Development Cost

8. Localization and Internationalization

Even though localizing your game for different languages and cultures costs more, doing so can attract more players worldwide. It is crucial to offer players a personalized experience. 

Localization It involves tailoring the application to meet the specific needs and preferences of users in particular regions.
Internationalization It lays the foundation for making an application adaptable to different cultures and languages by modifying game codes, and other technical aspects.

9. Mobile Platforms

The mobile platforms impact the mobile game app development cost. Check the following table –

Registration Charges It is crucial to know the deploying cost of mobile game apps on Google Play Store and/or Apple Store. For that, you need a corporate or individual (small business) app account.

  • Google Play Store: $25 (one-time fees)

  • Apple Store: $99 (annual fees)

Service Charges Google Play Store imposes 15-30% service charges on in-app purchases and app sales. In addition, they also charge for subscriptions and other charges.

Cost-Effective Strategies for Mobile Game App Development

Mobile game app development incurs a significant amount of investment. If you’re looking for cost-effective tips for mobile app development without compromising the quality. Then you must consider the following strategies:

strategies for mobile game app development

1. Define Project Requirements

Start the process by clearly defining your mobile app project requirements, scope, and goals. You must develop a comprehensive PRD (Product Requirement Document) to minimize the complexities involved in the development. It includes:

  • Creating an extensive feature list
  • Putting up UI/UX guidelines
  • Setting up due dates
  • Developing budget estimates
  • Creating the desired framework 

Ultimately, it will help to ensure a clear roadmap for development and help avoid costly changes later in the process.

2. Build in Stages

The market fluctuates every day so what works today might not work tomorrow. So, it is important to break up the development process into stages. Start with the basics and work up to more complex concepts later. 

But first, make sure to include features crucial to your game's value proposition. This enables more rapid time-to-market and early consumer feedback gathering, which allows affordable adjustments and improvements.  

3. Prioritize MVPs

Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and add required features to meet your target market's needs. 

Focusing on your app's primary features will allow you to test it in the market before proceeding with more intricate full-app development. 

Additionally, MVP is a cost-effective approach that facilitates user feedback collection and app modification based on collected data.   

4. Hire Mobile App Development Team

Invest in hiring a competent and experienced team mobile game app development company like Apptunix. Partnering with a company that professional designers, developers, and testers throughout the development process guarantees top-notch quality and the project’s success.

5. Embrace Cross-Platform Reach

If you want to develop your game app for multiple platforms at once, use cross-platform development frameworks like Unity or Unreal Engine. 

This strategy reduces development time and expenses related to platform-specific customization while enabling you to reach a wider audience across many platforms and operating systems. 

6. Implement Automated Deployment

Deployment process automation can optimize updates and releases while minimizing the risk of mistakes and human labor. Setting up continuous integration for creating and testing, ensuring security and monitoring, and configuring the application are all parts of it. This speeds the software release process, reduces errors, and keeps the program competitive and up to date.

Impact of Pricing Model on the Cost of Mobile Game App Development

Choosing the right pricing model is essential to reduce the overall development cost of mobile game apps. 

Here, we’ve discussed the top 3 pricing models that influence the cost of mobile game app development. Let’s learn and choose the best model for your app:

pricing model of mobile game app development

Pricing Model 1: Fixed Cost Model

The project scope, budget, and schedule are all fixed under a single fixed price covering the development process in the fixed cost approach. This model provides certain benefits that include:

  • A pre-defined budget
  • Control over management
  • Variable scope for customizable demands
  • Smooth communication with the team and more. 

Note: The fixed cost model works best for clients with a fixed or set budget, providing cost stability and efficient workflow.

Pricing Model 2: Resource Hiring Team

In this model, the client hires a dedicated team of experts that includes designers, developers, and other resources. It depends on the clients if they want to their team on a full-time or part-time basis. 

This model is based on the hourly or monthly rates of the resource and gives clients more freedom to scale the team up or down as needed. Some advantages of this model include faster time-to-market, cost-effectiveness, and helps to save time. 

Note: This model is preferable for clients with long-term projects and evolving requirements.

Pricing Model 3: Material Model and Hourly Time

In this model, the client pays for the hourly time and materials spent during development based on hourly rates for each resource employed. This approach offers maximum flexibility and transparency because the client only pays for the services. 

Advantages of this model include – focus on core business, short development time, minimum risk, pay as per resources consumed, and adherence to guidelines. 

Note: This model is preferable for clients with long to mid-length engagement, projects with evolving changes, or frequent changes where cost estimation upfront may be challenging.

Partner with Apptunix to Build & Grow Your Mobile Game App Business

By the end of 2030, the mobile game market is expected to reach USD 284.4 billion. It’s massive, isn’t it? 

If you too want to skyrocket your mobile gaming app business and unlock immense revenue potential -- now is the time. Partner with Apptunix, a leading mobile game development company to create something beyond the ordinary. 

Our team of developers, designers, animators, and testing engineers will ensure your game app’s success in today’s competitive market.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q 1.Which type of game costs the most?

AAA games are expensive due to high-end graphics, gameplay mechanics, advanced game engines, motion capture technology, and development resources. 

 

Q 2.Which game genre is the most popular?

The most popular genres globally includes RPG, shooter, and action-adventure games.

 

Q 3.Is mobile game development profitable?

Mobile game development is highly profitable due to a broader audience base and various monetization options. 

 

Q 4.How long does it take to develop a mobile game app?

It depends on the complexity of the game. Basic or simple games take around 2 to 3 months, mid-level games take around 4 to 6 months and advanced-level games take around 7 to 12+ months. 

 

Q 5.Which platform is the best for mobile game development?

Some popular mobile game development platforms include Unreal Engine, Unity, Buildbox, Godot Engine, and Solar2D.

 

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